Spring has sprung and it’s time for us all to come out of our winter hibernation and get active, especially for those of us with dogs! When it comes to inclement weather, it’s no surprise that our exercise routines slow down, or become derailed.

It is easy to forget the incredible resources and tools we have when it comes to exercising our dogs. For example, food is a key element to motivating many dogs, while the hunt for food is another motivator. Sometimes, it’s as simple as nurturing your pooch’s instincts, and other times training is involved. No matter what, there are always options!

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For a lot of us, the weather has its way of dictating the kind of exercise we’ll be giving our companions and ourselves. But don’t give in! Rain? Snow? Cold weather? Allergies? No problem. With these five activities, your pup will be happy and relaxed from getting a good workout whether indoors or out:

1. Let His Nose Do the Walking

This is a fairly simple way to get your dog moving during mealtimes and a great way to teach your dog the “seek” command.

What You’ll Do

Spread your dog’s mealtime food through out your home to create a trail of food. To avoid having your dog leave food behind, do small trails at a time. This can also be done outside!

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How it works

  1. Avoid letting your dog see you while you create the food trail.
  2. Spread the food in lines/trails around your home. Begin with small trails and work up to larger ones. Eventually, you’ll use the entire amount of food. Don’t forget to leave a “jack pot” at the end of the trail! The jackpot could be the rest of the food or his favorite treat/toy.
  3. When you are done creating the trail, ask your dog to sit, treat your dog, and then say, “Seek!”

Get creative! Switch up the trails, put the food on top and underneath things, try it outside, and spread the pieces out further away from the other as your dog becomes a more advanced seeker.

Tips

  • If you do this outside, put the pieces of the kibble in the grooves of tree bark. He’ll have a lot of fun jumping up on the tree!
  • If your dog seems lost, tap your foot by each piece of kibble.

2. Puzzle Ball

This is very similar to activity above, but this allows your dog to maneuver the ball and control the output of food. It’s great to use if you’re short on time and can’t make up a creative trail because your dog can do it on her own!

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What You’ll Do

Purchase an activity/puzzle ball and fill it with your dog’s mealtime food. Start small and help your dog along, so the she doesn’t get bored if she can’t figure it out.

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How it Works

  1. Fill the puzzle ball with your dog’s kibble.
  2. Ask your dog to sit, treat her, ask her to wait, then put the ball down and say, “go!”  

This is also an excellent activity for your dog to do outside.

Tips

  • Get involved and help her if she becomes stuck.
  • Be aware that puzzle balls can get stuck under beds, couches, and other pieces of furniture at home, so if she comes back with no ball, you’ll need to be the one seeking!

3. Move Together

All it takes is 20 to 30 minutes of rigorous walking and running to get into and stay in shape.

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What You’ll Do

Get up and go! Seriously. Go!

How it Works

  1. Leash your dog.
  2. Open your front door.
  3. GO!

Tips

Gear up! There’s no such thing as bad weather if you and Fido are dressed for it! If you can’t exercise your dog, outsource the job! Hire a professional dog walker!

4. Fetch

This is a great low-maintenance activity for humans and an excellent way for your furry family member to stay in shape!

What You’ll Do

This works best if you train your dog to retrieve items for you and if your dog’s recall response is good.

How it Works

  1. Find an appropriate open space.
  2. Throw to your hearts content and let your dog have some blood-pumping fun!

Tips

  • Dogs have preferences for what they’ll retrieve. Some dogs prefer Frisbees or soccer balls; others will only chase a tennis ball, or a stick. Find out what piques your dog’s interest and go with it! For some dogs retrieving is instinctual, for others, especially young dogs, retrieving needs to be trained. No two dogs are alike and some dogs might just prefer being by your side.
  • A scent trailing line is excellent for those with independent furry companions who like to roam and go their own way. A scent trailing line is a very, very long leash that drags on the ground. Just be sure to stay alongside with the line so that it is always with in reach. You can make your own by purchasing a long length of line at any hardware store (rubber, or nylon works best). Mark the last 10 ft with tape, so you will know that you’re about to run out of line.

5. Treadmill

That’s right! Treadmills aren’t just for humans any more! There are plenty of treadmill owners who will happily get rid of their treadmill if someone simply picks it up. They’re a lot like pianos in that regard, so check out your local “For Sale” listings.

Using a treadmill for your furry companion is an excellent way to get your dog the exercise he needs, when you’re unable to give it to him yourself.

What You’ll Do

You will need to train your dog to use the treadmill first.

How it Works

  1. Invite your dog onto the treadmill.
  2. Situate yourself so that you are in a comfortable position at your dog’s side, in front of your dog, or wherever your dog is most motivated to work with you.
  3. Start the treadmill on the lowest setting.
  4. Pay attention to your dog and adjust the speed based on his reaction to the exercise.
  5. Only do this for minutes at a time, increasing the minutes each time.
  6. Be consistent.
  7. Treat well!

Tips

  • Train your dog to use the treadmill first.
  • Never, ever, leave your dog’s side while he is on the treadmill — ever!
  • Do not hook your dog up to the treadmill! Hold the lead and help your dog along the way. No matter how good your dog becomes at using the treadmill, never leave him alone and never hook him up to the treadmill.
  • Always have the emergency stop under your finger.
  • Start off slow and work up to a comfortable speed.

There are so many ways to engage your dog on a daily basis and sometimes all it takes is a little creativity!

Image Source: Orietta C. Estrada